Cover image for Pretend you're dead, okay?
Pretend you're dead, okay?
Howe, Russell Warren, 1925-2008.
Publication Information:
Washington, D.C. : Novella Club, 2000.
Physical Description:
215 pages ; 22 cm
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Publisher's Weekly Review

Two friends enlist the aid of two strangers to steal $16 million from a secret U.S./Japanese bank account used to fund Third World insurgencies in this noirish, Hitchcockian political thriller. The mastermind behind the caper, Alec Reason, is a U.S. Navy commander (and sometime spy) who has come to a dead end in his career. Partly out of a desire for revenge, and partly for the challenge, he devises a scheme to plunder one of his country's black-box accounts in Geneva, and recruits Hugh Williams, a friend in the British Foreign Service, to help him with the job. Both Reason and Williams are stamp collectors, and at the International Philatelic Association meeting in Tokyo, they meet two other malcontents in need of cash: Roger Nouvin, a 60-year-old Swiss pilot with a failing business, and Aki Watanabe, a Japanese philatelist who hates stamps. After pulling off their improbably easy white-collar heist, the four men fake their own deaths and expectÄerroneously, of courseÄto live happily ever after. Howe (False Flags) is operating in territory claimed long ago by John le Carr‚: lonely, middle-aged spies, disillusioned by God and country, fail miserably in their attempts to forget the past. But Howe's characters lack the humanity and tragic gravitas of George Smiley or Alec Leamas, and his plot twists don't quite have that strange combination of inventiveness and inevitability that made le Carr‚ a master. Nevertheless, this is a crisply paced page-turner with a clever premise: a perfectly serviceable airplane read. (Nov.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved